Thursday, February 28th

Plug in the Prius! “People of Color Don’t Care About the Environment!” is the title of a panel on the Upper West Side today, as part of Black History Month. “This whole idea is meant to be tongue-in-cheek,” explained host Simran Sethi, of the Sundance Channel, calling from Kansas, where she inexplicably decamped in 2006 after 16 years in New York (“I don’t miss it!”). “This idea of ‘Let’s buy a hybrid, let’s renovate our house in a green way,’ a lot of this is not what people of color are doing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about these issues,” continued Ms. Sethi. “It’s about, ‘How do we balance the struggle of making rent or educating your family with the bigger issues of climate change and our food system and obesity?’” Ms. Sethi hopes to provoke “a conversation about the intersection of social justice and environmental issues. We have this burgeoning environmental movement, but how do we get people beyond the idea of just buying things?” Honey, if we knew, maybe we’d make our rent! Speaking of Rent: Buzzy, raucous rock musical Passing Strange, about a black teenager’s quest to find himself—white-kid style, with a trip to Amsterdam!—opens at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway after last year’s stint at the Public Theater. And then, get a whiff of Chanel No. 5: The fashion mafia sweeps back into town with its bad self as design guru Jonathan Adler, fashion designer John Bartlett, reality-TV fashion critic Tim Gunn and The Observer’s own puckish Simon Doonan host the Bailey House Auction and Party at the Puck Building, benefiting homeless New Yorkers with AIDS and offering as an auction prize—we kid you not—a week at Val Kilmer’s ranch near Santa Fe. (Unfortunately, Val not included, but of course do please bring your camera phone!) And, in a competing event for the chemical-peel set, Christie’s and ELLE Décor preview the Christie’s Interiors auction at the Lexus Young Collector’s Night (what exactly are all these young people collecting? and do we need some?), with expected attendees including Dr. Lisa Airan, Kelly Killoren Bensimon and blond designer du jour Adam Lippes. Finally, if you can stomach one more drink without face-planting on the sidewalk, Look at Life, a New York-based art collective founded by improbable philanthropist and O.A.R. bassist Benj Gershman (c’mon people, didn’t you ever go to a frat party? “I say of, you say a, I say Revolution, you say jah”) stages an exhibit of photographs taken on Operation Smile missions around the world. Joining him will be Jaslene Gonzalez of America’s Next Top Model, model Hana Soupkova and Russian heiress Anna Anisimova, who dodged a chandelier at her $15 million Time Warner Center apartment last week. And you thought the rich had it easy, didn’t you?

[“People of Color Don’t Care About the Environment,” New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street, 7 p.m., 212-874-5210; Passing Strange, the Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th Street, 7 p.m.; Bailey House benefit, 295 Lafayette Street, 7 p.m.,; ELLE Décor event, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, 6:30 p.m., 212-484-4845; Operation Smile exhibit, 534 West 35th Street, 7 p.m.,]